The Agora
The Lamentations of Jeremiah

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It is said that a music teacher once had a carefree student with a fine voice. One day in exasperation he said to him, "If I could bring you some sorrow that would break your heart, I could make you the finest singer in the world." We may be like that singer, well-versed technically in the Truth, with more than enough theoretical knowledge of the Bible -- and yet something is lacking to mature us as disciples of Christ. Suffering provides that deficiency.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah are about suffering and sorrow, and heartbreak. This is not a book selected often for detailed study. But it is a book to which we may be drawn more and more as the years go by, and trials become our inevitable lot. Then "deep calls to deep", and we find the reasons for our disappointments and disillusionments in the Lamentations.

Every believer in God, at one time or another, must endure trials. How he or she responds to those trials will be of eternal consequence. Sometimes the reasons for those trials are obvious (as, for example, the sins of Judah that led to her overthrow); other times they seem to be "without rhyme or reason" (as with the long-suffering Jeremiah and especially with Jesus). But in every case, without exception, they are necessary, and God knows the purpose even if we do not at the time:

"For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth... If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb 12:6, 7, 11).
This work is divided into three major sections, progressing from most general to most specific:

  1. The Book as a Whole;
  2. Chapter by Chapter, and
  3. Verse by Verse.
The first major section alone will provide an overview of the book. The second section will impart a feel for the progression of thought through the five separate poems, or chapters. And the third section will fill in some details for the really serious, "midnight-oil" student. It has been our experience that all three approaches are necessary for the best grasp of a book of Scripture. A knowledge of the generalities without detailed study produces an "acquaintance" with Scriptural principles, but never a really first-class familiarity with the Word of God. But a verse by verse approach by itself may give the student a wonderful view of each "tree" without his ever seeing the "forest". When his studies are "completed", he may find himself "lost in the woods", with still no notion of a final destination.

A final section contains "other perspectives" of a general and supplementary nature, not easily includible in the body of the study.

It is our prayer that this study of a little-known book of the Bible may play a part in preparing the children of God for the coming "apocalypse" of their Lord.

George Booker
Troy Haltom
July, 1981


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